Prepared by Michael Wolking, August 2018
with funding from the sponsors of the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy.
Mike Wolking began his education career as a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He worked in the New York City Department of Education on school redesign efforts and spent five years consulting with school districts across the United States with Education Elements. Mike’s work at Education Elements focused on personalized learning, strategic school design, effective professional learning and change management in public education. Mike has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan, a Master of Arts in education from Loyola Marymount University, and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Mike served as an Ian Axford Fellow in Wellington at the Ministry of Education and Network for Learning, a crown-owned company. Through visits to 21 school sites across the country and a wide range of interviews, he studied school efforts to implement the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum while considering the wide range of policies and organisations that impact classroom practices at the secondary level.
New Zealand’s education system is world-renowned for supporting innovative learning environments, in part because of a national curriculum inclusive of key competencies for the future and technology access that includes broadband in all schools. Yet national survey data show that among secondary schools many teaching practices remain slow to change. This paper attempts to diagnose why instructional shifts take significant time at the secondary level and offers recommendations that enable a focus on the social and emotional skills that underlie important aspects of the key competencies.
The first section of the paper describes the background of the key competencies, which have their origins in work from the OECD and provide a set of social and emotional skills important for learning and life. The second section presents findings from interviews and a review of New Zealand research that outlines the current state of implementation of the key competencies and notable challenges facing the New Zealand education system at large. Section three provides a detailed set of recommendations that a variety of actors, from schools to government agencies, can take to support a focus on key competencies. The final section attempts to prioritise those recommendations through the dual dimensions of importance and complexity. Findings and recommendations are grouped within a values-knowledge-capacity-coherence framework that provides a lens for thinking about change management efforts in the public sector.
Readers unfamiliar with the New Zealand education system, or simply those who would benefit from an overview, may wish to visit the Appendix of the report before diving into its contents.
Download full report in PDF format: